GM foods and crops

Paul S. Brookes. brookes at uab.edu
Thu Nov 25 15:16:47 EST 1999


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WRT to specific points.....

(a) For the person on Radio 4 talking about peanut allergies, this is a 
case of simple misunderstanding of the mechanism of genetic 
modification.  A GM food is made by placing a gene (or piece of DNA) from 
one organism into another organism that doesn't have that gene.   Since all 
genes eventually lead to the synthesis of proteins, one would assume that 
the peanut gene inserted into the soy would lead to the synthesis of a 
novel protein.   In order for the person who is allergic to peanuts to be 
allergic to the GM soy, the allergen would have to be the actual protein 
made by the new gene, or a product made by the new protein (such as a new 
type of fat or sugar).  Given the millions of genes in a peanut, and the 
likelihood that only a handful are involved in producing the things that 
people are allergic to, it is highly unlikely that an allergen protein will 
be transferred.

And what about the other possibility - if only a handful of proteins are 
involved in allergic reactions, it should be possible to genetically 
engineer peanuts without them, so people are not allergic to them.  What 
would be the reaction of the peanut allergy fraternity to allergy free peanuts?

(b) dissecting your sentence.....
 >.......in a number of theSouth African countries and tribal areas, women may
 >be cash-poor but seed-rich and have control over the produce of their land.

 >......disenfranchisement of women and a corresponding increase in the
 > economic power of men, who already have better access to everything
 >from education and medicine to food and  water.

So, it's OK for women to control the land, but as soon as men enter the 
equation its unfair.   You can't have it both ways!

(c) Agreed, the impact of GM foods on delicate ecosystems has not been 
studied enough, but like everything else there is a trade off between 
knowing enough to be safe, and not wanting spend the next 100 years finding 
out everything there is to know before granting licenses.

 From an American point of view (I'm actually British and moved out 
here),  we don't know nearly enough about what's in our food, but you don't 
seem to hear people complaining about govenrment cover-ups.   In Britain 
you had the salmonella in eggs scare, then the BSE thing, the botulinum in 
yoghurt, the E.coli outbreaks, all of which gave rise to significant 
government mis-information.  So when the government says GM is safe, do you 
base your decision to beleive them on the actual science, or on their 
previous track record?  Another point to consider is that most American 
crops are grown in huge monoculture conditions in the plains states, where 
the ecosystems are already completely destroyed through years of intensive 
farming, so adding GM to the equation doesn't actually harm things any 
more.   Compare that to the UK where small fields are dotted all over the 
place, with sensitive sites within yards of growing areas.    Just like the 
shopping mall on the edge of town system - not all American systems work 
well when placed in an unsuitable environment.

The bottom line is if it tastes good, costs less, and isn't toxic, then 
Americans will eat it with scant regard to where it came from.

Regards
PSB


_________________________________________
Dr. Paul S. Brookes.            (brookes at uab.edu)
UAB Department of Pathology,   G004 Volker Hall
1670 University Blvd., Birmingham AL 35294 USA
Tel (001) 205 934 1915     Fax (001) 205 934 1775
http://peir.path.uab.edu/brookes

The quality of e-mails can go down as well as up

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<html><div>WRT to specific points.....</div>
<br>
<div>(a) For the person on Radio 4 talking about peanut allergies, this
is a case of simple misunderstanding of the mechanism of genetic
modification.&nbsp; A GM food is made by placing a gene (or piece of DNA)
>From one organism into another organism that doesn't have that
gene.&nbsp;&nbsp; Since all genes eventually lead to the synthesis of
proteins, one would assume that the peanut gene inserted into the soy
would lead to the synthesis of a novel protein.&nbsp;&nbsp; In order for
the person who is allergic to peanuts to be allergic to the GM soy, the
allergen would have to be the actual protein made by the new gene, or a
product made by the new protein (such as a new type of fat or
sugar).&nbsp; Given the millions of genes in a peanut, and the likelihood
that only a handful are involved in producing the things that people are
allergic to, it is highly unlikely that an allergen protein will be
transferred.</div>
<br>
<div>And what about the other possibility - if only a handful of proteins
are involved in allergic reactions, it should be possible to genetically
engineer peanuts without them, so people are not allergic to them.&nbsp;
What would be the reaction of the peanut allergy fraternity to allergy
free peanuts?</div>
<br>
<div>(b) dissecting your sentence.....</div>
<div>&gt;.......in a number of theSouth African countries and tribal
areas, women may</div>
<div>&gt;be cash-poor but seed-rich and have control over the produce of
their land.</div>
<br>
<div>&gt;......disenfranchisement of women and a corresponding increase
in the</div>
<div>&gt; economic power of men, who already have better access to
everything</div>
<div>&gt;from education and medicine to food and&nbsp; water.</div>
<br>
<div>So, it's OK for women to control the land, but as soon as men enter
the equation its unfair.&nbsp;&nbsp; You can't have it both ways!</div>
<br>
<div>(c) Agreed, the impact of GM foods on delicate ecosystems has not
been studied enough, but like everything else there is a trade off
between knowing enough to be safe, and not wanting spend the next 100
years finding out everything there is to know before granting
licenses.</div>
<br>
<div> From an American point of view (I'm actually British and moved out
here),&nbsp; we don't know nearly enough about what's in our food, but
you don't seem to hear people complaining about govenrment
cover-ups.&nbsp;&nbsp; In Britain you had the salmonella in eggs scare,
then the BSE thing, the botulinum in yoghurt, the E.coli outbreaks, all
of which gave rise to significant government mis-information.&nbsp; So
when the government says GM is safe, do you base your decision to beleive
them on the actual science, or on their previous track record?&nbsp;
Another point to consider is that most American crops are grown in huge
monoculture conditions in the plains states, where the ecosystems are
already completely destroyed through years of intensive farming, so
adding GM to the equation doesn't actually harm things any
more.&nbsp;&nbsp; Compare that to the UK where small fields are dotted
all over the place, with sensitive sites within yards of growing
areas.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Just like the shopping mall on the edge of town
system - not all American systems work well when placed in an unsuitable
environment.</div>
<br>
<div>The bottom line is if it tastes good, costs less, and isn't toxic,
then Americans will eat it with scant regard to where it came
from.</div>
<br>
<div>Regards</div>
<div>PSB</div>
<br>
<br>

<font color=3D"#000080">_________________________________________<br>
</font><font color=3D"#FF0000"><b>Dr. Paul S.
Brookes.</b>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbs=
p;
(brookes at uab.edu)<br>
</font><font color=3D"#000080">UAB Department of Pathology,&nbsp;&nbsp;
G004 Volker Hall<br>
1670 University Blvd., Birmingham AL 35294 USA<br>
Tel (001) 205 934 1915&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Fax (001) 205 934
1775<br>
<a href=3D"http://peir.path.uab.edu/brookes"=
 eudora=3D"autourl">http://peir.path.uab.edu/brookes</a><br>
<br>
<b>The quality of e-mails can go down as well as up<br>
</font></b></html>

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